Why Joshua Guimond’s disappearance should be investigated as a suspicious missing person case?
By Aubrey Immelman
February 14, 2006
This analysis is a counterpoint to Richard Meryhew’s article “One last sip, one last step: A walk after a night of drinking has ended in disaster for a dozen young men at college” (Star Tribune, Feb. 12, 2006).
The article creates the erroneous impression that St. John’s University student Joshua Guimond was a drowning victim. In fact, the Guimond case is classified as a “missing person case and drowning has been effectively excluded as the cause of Guimond’s disappearance.
Following is a summary of facts and circumstances relevant to the case and my analysis of those facts and circumstances.
Joshua Guimond of Maple Lake disappeared around midnight on Saturday, November 9, 2002, while walking alone on the campus of St. John’s Abbey and University. (1)
More than four years have passed since the Trident Foundation — the nation’s top underwater search team — reported in May 2003, after an exhaustive search, that Guimond was not in any of the three lakes on campus as originally suspected.
On May 21, 2003, the Maple Lake Messenger reported that Trident executive director Scott Romme recommended the search for Guimond “head in another direction.” Efforts by the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department, “coupled with our technologies and efforts,” Romme wrote in his report, “should provide a very high degree of reassurance to the family and the community that Josh is most probably somewhere else.” (2)
Unfortunately, the intervening years have brought no answers and the investigation seems to have reached a dead end. Here’s a brief timeline:
Six months after the Trident Foundation had cleared the lakes at St. John’s, Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner told the Maple Lake Messenger (Nov. 5, 2003) that although the Trident Foundation did not find any trace of Guimond in any of the lakes on campus, the search did not rule out the possibility that Guimond was in one of the lakes: “We felt more comfortable in looking at other possibilities after the Trident search,” Sanner said. “But that’s not to say that Josh didn’t walk into a heavily swampy area and sink into the mud.” (3)
On May 6, 2004, a year after the definitive Trident search, the St. Cloud Times reported that about 10 members of the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department’s Mounted Reserves had searched areas that had been too wet to cover in earlier searches. They searched lowland areas near the university for about 3½ hours, but found nothing. The sheriff then said that no more searches were planned, unless new information came to investigators. (4)
In the most recent development, on October 27, 2005, the St. Joseph Newsleader reported that Josh Guimond’s father, Brian Guimond, had “contacted the Soil and Water Conservation Service, and an expert there wrote Guimond a letter stating there is no such thing as ‘quicksand’ in the wetlands on the campus where Guimond’s body could have sunk from sight.”(5)
So, if Guimond is not in any lake or low-lying area on campus, where is he? Here are some relevant facts to consider in addressing that question:
- The premier underwater search team in the United States has cleared all bodies of water that Guimond could plausibly have fallen into.
- After the Trident Foundation ruled out the lakes, law enforcement authorities persisted with the notion that Guimond was in one of the lakes searched by Trident, though also holding forth the possibility that he may have walked into a heavily swampy area and sunk into the mud.
- Given the findings of experts from the Trident Foundation and the Soil and Water Conservation Service, there is no factual or credible information that supports the speculation that Guimond may have walked into a swamp and sunk into the mud, as Stearns County’s Sheriff Sanner repeatedly asserted for nearly three years.
- There is no physical or circumstantial evidence whatsoever that Guimond vanished of his own accord. He was without his car, glasses, or a coat warm enough for the freezing November weather. None of his credit cards have been used and there has been no contact with any friends or family members in the more than three years since his disappearance.
- Sheriff Sanner maintained for at least two years that there was no evidence Guimond was abducted or the victim of any crime. (6) However, on October 27, 2005, the St. Joseph Newsleader quoted Sheriff Sanner as saying that the case is still classified as a “missing person investigation and that anything is possible, including an abduction.” (5)
In conclusion, all alternative explanations having been exhausted, it now seems plausible that the most likely explanation for Guimond’s disappearance is indeed an abduction. Could it be more than a coincidence that another young male, Jacob Wetterling, was abducted just a few miles away on October 22, 1989 in St. Joseph, 13 years before Guimond went missing, and that no trace of either Wetterling or Guimond has ever been found?
Sources cited and Web links
(2) “As Trident goes, TV crew comes to St. John’s” by Theresa Andrus. Maple Lake Messenger, May 21, 2003.
(3) “One year later, Joshua is gone but not forgotten” by Theresa Andrus. Maple Lake Messenger, November 5, 2003.
(4) “Mounted Reserves find nothing in search for missing SJU student” by Kelly Scott. St. Cloud Times, May 6, 2004.
(5) “Parents frustrated no developments in son’s vanishing” by Dennis Dalman. St. Joseph Newsleader, October 27, 2005.
(6) “Vigil signals hope for missing St. John’s student” by David Unze. St. Cloud Times, November 9, 2004.